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Kim Moss

Author: Heather Sauer | Image: Heather Sauer

Kim Moss, an assistant professor of art and visual culture and coordinator of the biological and premedical illustration program at Iowa State University, received a 2018 Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) grant for a two-year project to develop a comprehensive educational outreach program that will focus on the link between Parnassius clodius — an obscure, nonmigratory white butterfly of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem — and climate change. The project, “Telling the Visual Story of Butterflies as Bioindicators of Climate Change; Linking Youth and the Public to Conservation,” will highlight the research and conservation efforts of Moss’ collaborator, ecologist Diane Debinski of Montana State University.

By generating a range of creative visual content, Moss will unfold the story of Parnassius clodius to promote public and youth engagement in conservation. Mountain meadow butterflies are particularly susceptible to habitat loss and climate change. Parnassius butterflies depend on the timing of snowmelt each spring in order to thrive and develop when host and nectar plants are available. One species from the Parnassius genus, located in Poland, is declining globally due to these factors. This places great importance on monitoring Parnassius status worldwide. The educational outreach program will connect the story of Parnassius locations in Yellowstone and the Tetons to key locations and research in Poland. The program will be especially shaped for youth conservationists-in-training and the public, and will include content for teachers to use with grade-school students and interpretive displays for national park visitor centers.